Conservative education activists ripped the Biden administration over reports that the FBI had opened multiple investigations into parents protesting at their local school boards, saying the administration was attempting to silence parents.
The criticisms came after Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee disclosed, in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, that, based on whistleblower reports, the FBI and the Department of Justice had been actively opening investigations into parents for merely expressing disdain at school district policies. Parent activists denounced the news, calling the administration's actions "dystopian."
"Attorney General Merrick Garland authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate parents that exercised their First Amendment rights at school board meetings; and the FBI did exactly that, all based on tips from vindictive leftists who believe that 'speech is violence,'" Ian Prior, the executive director of Fight for Schools and a senior adviser at America First Legal, told the Washington Examiner.
FBI OPENED MULTIPLE INVESTIGATIONS INTO PROTESTING PARENTS, GOP LAWMAKERS SAY
"It is clear that the Biden administration is a catspaw of the radical Left and is sending this country down a dystopian path where government schools can encourage boys to be girls, girls to be boys, and parents need to sit down and shut up about it or face a federal investigation," Prior said.
Nicole Neily, the president of the parent activist organization Parents Defending Education, likewise blasted the administration's actions, which she said amounted to "mock[ing] parents' concerns about their children's education" and "gaslighting them over what was truly taking place in America's schools."
"We know that the FBI has, indeed, been investigating citizens for exercising their constitutional right to petition their government for a redress of grievances," Neily said. "It is past time for the government to be transparent about how — and why — federal law enforcement was weaponized against America's families, and for those bureaucrats to be held accountable."
Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily's statement on Rep. Jim Jordan's letter to the Department of Justice regarding the FBI using counterterrorism resources to investigate parents for expressing protected political speech at school board meetings. pic.twitter.com/Bmvz23GFaW— Parents Defending Education (@DefendingEd) May 12, 2022
The whistleblower disclosures are the latest chapter in a saga that began in September 2021 when the National School Boards Association, reportedly at the behest of the Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, asked the Biden administration and the Justice Department to investigate parents protesting at school board meetings as domestic terrorists under the Patriot Act.
A week after the letter was sent, in early October 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo establishing a joint FBI/DOJ task force charged with investigating threats against school board members.
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After sustained public outcry, the NSBA apologized for sending the letter and withdrew it — but not before numerous state school board associations announced they were cutting ties with the national group.
Despite the NSBA's apology, Garland defended his memo and the formation of the task force in October 2021 testimony before the House and Senate Judiciary committees, in which he insisted that the investigators would not be targeting parent protesters, only threats of violence.